Life has resumed to normal. The imaginary quarantine sign with the radioactive symbol has been taken down. It’s been a long couple of days of sweaty glow from rumbly tumblies and the volcanic eruptions on either side of those sphincters. I’m just glad it’s over.
Illness always makes me stop and think. I see the world with new eyes. I appreciate simple blessings. Like vaccines. This is one blessing that has been rolling around in my mind for a while now, even before the plague touched my weekend. Vaccines are the center of intense debate right now. Everyone has their own take on the issue. Let me explain where I stand.
The news is fraught with picketers and angry parents. This attitude has even reached out to me personally. A few weeks ago a friend emailed me a petition on behalf of her neighbor. The neighbor was hoping to get enough signatures to warrant the attention of local legislators. She was adamant that the government stay out of vaccines. People should have the right to choose whether or not to pump their children full of substances guaranteed to eradicate mortal diseases.
I could not get on board.
Is it a knee jerk reaction to hate on the government every time they try to make decisions “for the common good”? Do people think about these issues before pouring paint on a sign? From my perspective, no. It’s too easy to blame and not think. Not that long ago Obama Care was proposed and the world went crazy. Now California is trying to make it difficult for parents to opt out of mandatory vaccines. And the state is in an uproar.
On the surface these two issues are the same. Obama Care is mandatory, no other option, health care. I am not okay with that. Mandatory health care costs everyone more money. Emulating Canada’s health care system leads to lazy health care. It’s hard to care about something that comes for free. This is a watered down version of my opinion. The vaccine issue still allows for choice. There is more red tape and hoops to jump through to get your kid enrolled in school unvaccinated. Honestly, those parents should home school their kids anyway. Home schooling lessens the risk of infecting large groups of children with diseases known to cause death.
That’s my whole problem with this debate. People used to die from diseases that we now know exactly how to prevent. Up until the recent past those prevention strategies have been successful. Now these “old fashioned” diseases are threatening the general public again. All because certain people want their children to remain pure – preservative free and vaccination free.
I have a disease that cannot be prevented and there is no cure. My body turned on itself attacking the insulin hormones it naturally made and now I am left to pick up the pieces. Trust me, if there were a way to ensure my children never have to worry about this disease, I would be the first in line. Enough advances have been made that I can live a normal life with diabetes. It does complicate other things like illness. I just spent a day and a half thinking my diabetes management was to blame for my physical symptoms. Watching my husband sweat, sleep, and look weaker and paler than I care to admit, makes me realize I really was sick. Some short lived stomach flu really did make its way through my family over the weekend. Without acknowledging it completely, I got it too.
If I could prevent it, I would. As of now there is no stomach flu shot. There are regular flu shots. Sometimes my family and I get one. Sometimes we don’t. Flu has been known to cause death but none of us are in the camps of people at risk of death by flu – elderly, infants, compromised immune system. What I can prevent in myself and in my children are horrifying death sentences from diseases that now have vaccines. I watched one of my babies go through the pain of Rotavirus. It was the most awful thing I had to witness. There was little I could do to help him. The doctor even told me I had to stick it out until the illness had run its course. My little guy had digestive issues that landed us in an Insta-Care facility that was luckily open late. Not an illness I would wish on my worst enemy. Imagine my relief when I was offered a Rotavirus vaccine for my next baby.
In a matter of two and a half years, the agonizing experience my son went through would never have to happen to my daughter. I think that is what’s happening with the vaccine debate. It has been decades and decades since someone in the United States has had to experience the horrors of polio, measles, or tuberculosis. We only read about children dying from Scarlet Fever from old journals. This is not a problem today. Only it’s starting to be. Pertussis is claiming the lives of babies because adults don’t bother vaccinating themselves. They think they have an intense cold and then their baby dies. How many people died last winter from the measles outbreak at Disneyland?
I know people who have vaccinated some of their kids but not all. “I just try to feed my family healthy food and keep everyone healthy.” I can’t help but hear the ominous piano chords from the scary parts in movies. Dun dun duuun. Just keep everyone healthy? Fat lot of good healthy eating and “avoiding” sickness did for me. People are human, not the offspring of super heroes. I read an article years ago that listed ways parents could help prevent Type 1 diabetes in their child. My mom didn’t know of any such list when I was a baby but had followed each tip to a T. Guess who still got it? That’s my point. These things happen. Some people are more able to fight off illness than others. I don’t want to make that gamble with my kids.
Danger is lurking in the form of disease. There is one sure way to prevent it and on the other hand there is the hope that your kid is the lucky one with the super immune system. Sorry, but I choose the sure win.
The reasons for not wanting vaccines are varied. I have heard a lot of people say they don’t want their child to develop cerebral palsy or autism. The chances of that happening are so slim. I did know a couple whose child was fine until he had an adverse reaction to vaccines as a toddler. He lived the rest of his life with cerebral palsy. He was the oldest child this couple had. They still vaccinated the rest of their kids.
Life is perilous. We never know what will happen. Who will develop cancer or why? Who will develop not one, but two auto-immune disorders (me), or why? There is no crystal ball. So when it comes to illnesses that we know exactly how to prevent, I choose to vaccinate. This is why I choose not to sign petitions designed to tell the government to mind their own business when it comes to the health and well-being of the community. In this case I think the government has a point.